She received the award in her capacity as former deputy of the Department of Environmental Affairs.
“This is really for my family,” she said in her acceptance speech.
“They are the ones that had to suffer while I was gone digging up litter in rivers.”
The seminar was not all about Mabudafhasi’s work though. Dr Christian Bonte, director of the Institute of Plastics Engineering at the University of Stuttgart in Germany was also present to give an educational talk on bioplastics.
Bioplastics are plastics in which all carbon is derived from renewable feedstocks. According to Bonte the distinction between bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics is important. Bio-based plastics are made from renewable resources such as corn and potatoes, instead of fossil fuels used for biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics can degrade by introducing microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae to the product.
Dr Linda Godfrey, professor at North West University and principal scientist in Waste for Development at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, spoke of the economic impact of waste in South Africa. In contrast to Bonte, she focused on the opportunities that lie in waste management.
“Ninety percent of organic waste is sent to landfills in South Africa,” said Godfrey.
“We’ve estimated that this is a loss of R17 billion per annum to the economy.”
She said the important thing was that consumers should recycle their trash. This led to job creation for recyclers who collected glass bottles and plastics.
Do you think buying bio-based plastics makes a difference to the environment? Comment on our Facebook page